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Priest removed from ministry after settlement over claims of sexual misconduct surfaces

By Tommie Clark

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    BALTIMORE (WBAL) — The Archdiocese of Baltimore is confirming a settlement with a priest in Baltimore accused of sexual harassment.

The archdiocese said it learned about the claims on Thursday involving Father Paschal Morlino, who is the pastor of St. Benedict Church in southwest Baltimore. Within 24 hours, the priest was suspended from any duties in public ministry. His removal was announced Sunday to parishioners.

Next to St. Benedict, a 90-year-old towering church, is the Father Paschal Center off Paschal’s Way. A parishioner and volunteer who asked to remain anonymous told 11 News it’s where she worked alongside the popular priest at the food pantry.

“(I saw) him every day. I know what kind of person he is. I knew the person that was the accuser,” the parishioner said.

In a statement, the archdiocese said someone filed a complaint in 2018 with the archdiocese, citing multiple concerns, and that the complaint did not include any information about the issues that led to the settlement. They said the 2018 complaint centered on Morlino’s alleged sexual harassment of an adult man; however, the man had died, and the third-party allegation could not be corroborated.

WBAL-TV 11 News has not obtained a copy of the settlement. Morlino has not been charged with a crime.

His removal has left his congregation concerned for their future.

“I think people are just lost. A lot of people that I’ve talked to in the last couple days have said, ‘I’m so disgusted with the archdiocese and everything that they’ve done and the dishonesty that they’ve had.’ (They’ve said) that Father Paschal wasn’t like that. And that, ‘If this place closes, where will I go?'” the parishioner said.

The archdiocese told 11 News that Morlino has returned to his religious community in Latrobe, Pennsylvania. The archdiocese intends to investigate further.

Morlino’s name does not appear in the attorney general’s report on the history of sexual abuse within the Archdiocese of Baltimore.

The Suder Law Firm, which represents many Maryland clergy abuse survivors, told 11 News that, in general, the firm does settle matters dealing with people from the archdiocese without the archdiocese ever being notified.

Morlino could not be reached for comment.

The Archdiocese of Baltimore sent a statement to 11 News, which reads, in full: “On Thursday, when an inquiry was made by The Baltimore Banner, the Archdiocese of Baltimore and the Benedictines were first made aware of a settlement that had been entered into by Benedictine Fr. Paschal Morlino some years ago. The archdiocese immediately engaged in an internal investigation and within 24 hours, a decision was made to remove Fr. Morlino as pastor of St. Benedict Church in southwest Baltimore by the Archdiocese and the Benedictines and his priestly faculties were jointly suspended. He is no longer permitted to celebrate Mass or engage in public ministry in the archdiocese. Fr. Morlino has returned to his religious community, St. Vincent Archabbey in Latrobe, Pennsylvania. The Archdiocese and Benedictines intend to conduct further investigation.

“The archdiocese will appoint a new administrator to oversee St. Benedict Church, which is owned and operated by the Benedictines. Further investigation by church authorities into Fr. Morlino’s tenure will continue.

“In 2018, an individual filed a complaint with the archdiocese involving Fr. Morlino, citing multiple concerns. The complaint did not include any information at all about the issues that led to the settlement mentioned above. The 2018 complaint centered on Fr. Morlino’s alleged sexual harassment of an adult man; however, at the time of the complaint the man was deceased, and therefore the third-party allegation could not be corroborated.

“Anyone with information about inappropriate conduct by Fr. Morlino or any representative of the church is encouraged to contact the Archdiocese of Baltimore by calling the Ethics Hotline at 1-888-572-8026 or by visiting and clicking on ‘Report Misconduct’ at the top of the page.”

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